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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCENCE


April 22, 2015


Steve Addazio


STEVE ADDAZIO:¬† We ended our spring on March 28th, last Saturday.¬† That was our last day of spring ball.¬† We've been out of spring ball for quite some time, which has been really unique for me, and I really loved it.¬† Gave us a great opportunity to give us a longer lifting cycle post spring ball, gave us the opportunity to have a 4 1/2, 5 month window for any injuries coming out of spring, and gave us the chance for the first time to really take our time and evaluate the cut‑ups from the spring.
I really enjoyed that.  Usually, you're rushing right out on the road recruiting, but I thought that was important.  So we had a great spring.  We got a lot of work done.
Obviously, we're breaking in a new offensive line.¬† We're breaking a new quarterback in and several other key positions, but there's a lot of young talent.¬† So it will all now be about the development and the gelling of that talent together.¬† So that's going to be a really, really important piece of the puzzle here as we go through the off‑season and into the summer and get ready for next season.
But there were encouraging signs.¬† I think defensively we have a lot of players that have played a lot of football.¬† So we were really able to operate an installation on a fast basis.¬† On offense, it was a little slower, but there's a lot of young skill players that are exciting.¬† I thought Darius Wade did a great job at quarterback, as did Troy Flutie, as did Elijah Robinson, who had just come mid‑semester out of Montclair High School.
We have solid‑‑ our running backs are outstanding.¬† I thought the offense did a good job in the initial phase of gelling new faces there.¬† We only operated with about 7 1/2 active bodies this spring.¬† The receivers are starting to grow with experience.¬† The tight ends are a solid group.
So a lot of positive, a lot of encouraging things, and this next segment here will be very, very important.  So with that, any questions, I'm happy to answer.

Q.  Darius Wade, you talked about him a little bit there in the intro, but just what you can say about how he's excelled in spring, what he's been able to show you thus far, kind of how you define him at this point.
STEVE ADDAZIO:¬† Darius came mid‑semester last year, so he's got a full year in here.¬† He's starting to get a good handle on the offense.¬† He throws the ball extremely well.¬† He's very deceptive.¬† He has outstanding quickness and athletic ability.¬† As spring wore on, he really started to make great plays and manage the offense properly.¬† So we're excited about Darius.

Q.  As far as the running game, I know you talked about it a little bit, but just what you can say about a guy like Tyler Rouse, what he's been to you, and what he can be this season.
STEVE ADDAZIO:  I'm glad you brought up Tyler.  Tyler had an outstanding spring.  He is just one of those guys that he's the hardest working guy on our team.  He's a hard trainer, hard worker.  It means the world to him.  When he goes to practice, every rep he takes is 100 miles an hour.
He's playing with great confidence.  He's helping us in the throw game quite a bit.  He's got outstanding hands.  So I think you're going to see a great year out of Tyler.

Q.  I just wanted to ask you a little bit about, I guess, the Achilles heel of this team a year ago was special teams, specifically the ability to convert PATs.  So what extend did you feel comfortable about the work that you guys did in the spring to address that issue?  And what do you have to do going forward to make sure that does not become something that hurts you going forward?
STEVE ADDAZIO:  First off, you're right.  Specifically, the kicking because the special teams were outstanding.  And our special teams this spring, you know, we had an outstanding spring with special teams.  I think we're going to be really good.
Now, I didn't answer the kicking portion of it because that's unique all unto its own.  Putting that ball through the upright in extra points and field goals is something that we've got to get accomplished.  This isn't the NFL.  I mean, you just don't release players and sign new players.
So we're working hard.  Mike Knoll worked real, real hard this spring, and working out, more than anything, there's a confident and experience issue as a true freshman last year.  For me to sit here and say, Oh, I got that solved, I mean, no.  We also have another kicker that will be with us in preseason camp, and competition is a great thing.
But Mike has worked real hard, and he's got all the right leg strength, et cetera.  It's got to be accuracy, and it's got to be reliability.  All we can hope that is with another year, with more experience, that that situation will improve.
Of course, we bring someone else in here to create more competition, but it's not like I can bring in ten other people.  That just can't happen.  I can't tell you that it's solved.  I can tell thaw people that are involved in it are working very hard at it, and hopefully those results will show.

Q.  Will Alex Howell contend again for that position?
STEVE ADDAZIO:¬† Exactly, Alex will.¬† Alex is an unbelievable‑‑ he's a great punter, and he does a great job in kickoffs.¬† The problem is that he's working hard at field goals, but that's not his specialty.¬† A lot of teams don't have multiple players on scholarships.¬† We have a punter on scholarship and a kicker on scholarship.¬† I can't bring in two more right now.¬† I've got one more coming in, and that's about all I can do with that.
Alex has worked hard.¬† He has a strong, strong leg, and he's working on his accuracy.¬† So between the two‑‑ between Mike and Alex and then a new young man coming in, I'm hoping that we're going to be able to make strides with the accuracy and PAT and field goals because that has to happen.¬† I wish I could go do it myself, but I can't.

Q.  Steve, in looking at the newcomers that you had, the midyear enrollees, obviously, do you look back on this spring and say, gosh, where would we have been had we not had those extra bodies, given the shortage of numbers that you had in the spring and specifically on the offensive line when you looked at 7 1/2 bodies you said you had to work with?  And how much will you need to rely on these newcomers to fill that void that you need in order to have that depth that you need?
STEVE ADDAZIO:  We're going to have to rely on the newcomers, but the good news is we feel like we have an outstanding offensive line coming in here, young players.  Now, they're young, and I know, as well as anybody knows what that means.  But I think they're going to be very talented.
You know, I think that we're going to rely on those guys.  It was hard this spring.  Hopefully, we'll never have that kind of situation again as we should have our numbers balanced out now.  So we should never have that kind of void like we had this past spring.
Obviously, it's not a positive.  Could we have functioned without those midyear guys?  It would have been hard.  It was great for them, and it was great for us.  But all in all, saying all that I just said, a lot of good stuff happened this spring, and I'm extremely encouraged about our future because I think we've upgraded our team speed and the talent on our team.
Now, how long will it take for the maturity of that?  Well, that's the $60 million question, and only time will tell right now.  It's good young talent.  We're a much more talented team than when I got here two years ago.  Now, we managed to win seven games in each one of those seasons and get to two bowl games, so you're hoping that this young talent, which you're excited about, will mature quick enough to sustain the amount of winning that you're looking for.

Q.  One last thing, you talked about Darius.  Have you settled on who is going to be your starter here?  Or are you going to let the competition continue into the fall camp before you make that determination?
STEVE ADDAZIO:  You're always going to let competition continue, but Darius right now is taking the role and the starting role right now with this football team at the quarterback position.  He was the starter coming out of spring practice, and then, of course, we still have a whole summer ahead of us with Troy working hard and Elijah and Jeff Smith coming here in July, in June.
So I never close the door on anything, on any position, but certainly coming out of the spring, Darius was the starter coming out of the spring.

Q.¬† Steve, along those lines, where did he really‑‑ I know you talked a little bit about what Darius can do, but where has he shown the most separation from the other guys?¬† Is it just his knowledge and experience on the offense?
STEVE ADDAZIO:¬† You know, I think that's a piece of it.¬† He's been here longer.¬† So he has‑‑ he's actually been in‑‑ not much, but he's been in some games, and he's been here for over a year now.
And he's got a great skill set.  As I said, he really throws the ball exceptionally well.  He's got a good pocket presence to him, and he's a good size.  He's got good thickness, and he can run, and he's got, I think, really great quickness and change of direction.
So those combinations and that skill set with his experience give him a little edge right now, and he's done a nice job with it.  But he's a young guy.  He's very, very young, but I love those guys.  I think they have a great attitude and a great work ethic.

Q.  Obviously, you have a whole bunch of new starting offensive linemen and some new DBs.  How do those positions look to you coming out of the spring?
STEVE ADDAZIO:¬† I thought the DBs ‑‑ we have new DBs, but a lot of those DBs have played a lot of football.¬† We're more athletic.¬† We've got a good amount of experience back there.¬† We're still young, but I think it's exciting, and I really liked what they got done in the spring.¬† We're better.
In terms of the offensive line, I thought we put five guys up there that functioned pretty well, and a bunch of guys did a lot of work.  We have a newcomer come in here, Chris Lindstrom.  I think he's got a great future here.
So I believe we'll be just fine up front.  We may suffer a little early with the youth, especially at a position which takes time to develop, but as I said earlier, I really couldn't be more excited about the talent level of what's coming in up front for the future.
Again, with the offensive line, it just depends sometimes how long it takes to mature that group.  But the five guys we feel like we have, the five, six, seven guys we have right now, we still feel like those guys did pretty darn well this spring and gave us a lot of productivity.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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